al Qaeda

While Blair offers ersatz apology for Iraq War, Bush offers none at all



In the coming weeks, the U.K. is certain to be rocked by the Chilcot Inquiry, the years-overdue investigation into the planning, marketing, and execution of the Iraq War under former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair.That timing explains the preventive public relations war Blair launched over the past week to soften the coming blows. On the airwaves and in the op-ed pages, the mastermind of New Labour repackaged some old apologies to defend—not atone for—his decision to join U.S. President George W. Bush in ousting Saddam Hussein. Acknowledging that there are “elements of truth” to the well-documented history that the invasion and occupation of Iraq fueled the rise of ISIS, Blair nevertheless countered that, “I find it hard to apologize for removing Saddam.” Speaking to Fareed Zakaria of CNN, Blair made the historical strategic catastrophe for his country and ours sound like an ill-timed fart:

“I can say that I apologize for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong. I can also apologize by the way for some of the mistakes and planning and certainly our mistake in our understanding of what would happen once you remove the regime.”

If that script sounds familiar, it should. After all, that kind of finger-pointing was behind Jeb Bush’s short-lived talking point that “knowing what we know now” he “would not have engaged” in the preventive war against Iraq. Or as his fellow Floridian and 2016 White House wannabe Marco Rubio put it in May:

“Not only would I not have been in favor of it, President Bush would not have been in favor of it.”

But that statement is simply not true. And we know this because George W. Bush repeatedly told us so.Continue reading about the unrepentant George W. Bush, below.

That’s right. Bush didn’t just declare in 2013 that “I’m confident the decisions were made the right way,” decisions that directly led to the needless Iraq war that killed 4,500 American soldiers, wounded 30,000 more, converted Baghdad into an Iranian satellite and birthed ISIS. To the degree Dubya admitted to any mistakes it all, it was limited to his use of his “bad language” and “gun-slinging rhetoric”about the war.

That Bush was unrepentant, unaware, or both became apparent in April 2004. Thirteen months after the start of “shock and awe” in Iraq, President Bush could not acknowledge that ousting Saddam—or anything else—constituted a mistake. During a White House press conference, President Bush could not think of a single error he had made during his tenure in the White House:

“I’m sure something will pop into my head here…maybe I’m not as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one.”

On August 30, 2004, Bush43 confessed that his only failure in Iraq was being too successful:

“Had we had to do it [the invasion of Iraq] over again, we would look at the consequences of catastrophic success – being so successful so fast that an enemy that should have surrendered or been done in escaped and lived to fight another day.”

But by January 2007, just days after he announced the surge in Iraq, Bush admitted to Scott Pelley on 60 Minutes that he had made mistakes, if only semantic ones:

PELLEY: You mention mistakes having been made in your speech. What mistakes are you talking about?BUSH: You know, we’ve been through this before. Abu Ghraib was a mistake. Using bad language like, you know, “bring them on” was a mistake. I think history is gonna look back and see a lot of ways we could have done things better. No question about it.

(Mary Kewatt, whose nephew Jim was killed by a sniper in Baghdad in 2003, doubtless agreed. As she lamented to Minnesota Public Radio that summer, “President Bush made a comment a week ago, and he said, ‘bring it on.’ They brought it on and now my nephew is dead.”)Bush’s most jaw-dropping statement of regret about his tough talk came in June 2008. In London as part of his final swing through Europe before leaving the White House, President Bush told The Times of London that his cowboy rhetoric was perhaps his greatest regret:

President Bush has admitted to The Times that his gun-slinging rhetoric made the world believe that he was a “guy really anxious for war” in Iraq.[…] In an exclusive interview, he expressed regret at the bitter divisions over the war and said that he was troubled about how his country had been misunderstood. “I think that in retrospect I could have used a different tone, a different rhetoric.”

Phrases such as “bring them on” or “dead or alive”, he said, “indicated to people that I was, you know, not a man of peace.”

Of course, many Americans struggled with the notion that George W. Bush was a “man of peace” after he had repeatedly bragged to them that “I’m a war president.” Bush doubtless made matters worse by joking about the bloodbath he inaugurated in Iraq. On March 24, 2004 (the same day his former Counter-Terrorism Czar Richard Clarke told the 9/11 Commission, “Your government failed you, those entrusted with protecting you failed you, and I failed you”), President Bush regaled the audience at the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association Dinner in Washington. As David Corn recalled:

Bush notes he spends “a lot of time on the phone listening to our European allies.” Then we see a photo of him on the phone with a finger in his ear. But at one point, Bush showed a photo of himself looking for something out a window in the Oval Office, and he said, “Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere.” The audience laughed. I grimaced. But that wasn’t the end of it. After a few more slides, there was a shot of Bush looking under furniture in the Oval Office. “Nope,” he said. “No weapons over there.” More laughter. Then another picture of Bush searching in his office: “Maybe under here.” Laughter again.

Bush’s punchlines about the missing “smoking gun that could come in the form of the mushroom cloud” was no laughing matter to the families of the Americans killed and maimed in Iraq. And over the years, it was no laughing matter to President Bush’s closest aides, either.In his 2010 memoir Courage and Consequence, Karl Rove blamed himself for not lying more about the war. As Baker wrote at the time (“Rove on Iraq: Without W.M.D. Threat, Bush Wouldn’t Have Gone to War”):

“Would the Iraq War have occurred without W.M.D.? I doubt it,” he writes. “Congress was very unlikely to have supported the use-of-force resolution without the W.M.D. threat. The Bush administration itself would probably have sought other ways to constrain Saddam, bring about regime change, and deal with Iraq’s horrendous human rights violations.”He adds: “So, then, did Bush lie us into war? Absolutely not.” But Mr. Rove said the White House had only a “weak response” to the harmful allegation, which became “a poison-tipped dagger aimed at the heart of the Bush presidency.”

After Jeb’s “knowing what we know now” imbroglio, Dubya’s former press secretary Ari Fleischer lamented, “No, it was not handled well by Gov. Bush. I don’t know why he said what he did.” But this is how Fleischer himself recently addressed the “knowing what we know now” question on Iraq:

“I just don’t think he would have gone to war. I think he would have turned up the heat on Saddam, but I don’t think he would have gone to war.”

Then again, that’s not what Ari Fleischer was saying before. As he put it to Chris Matthews in March 2009:

After September 11th having been hit once how could we take a chance that Saddam might strike again? And that’s the threat that has been removed and I think we are all safer with that threat removed.” [Emphasis mine]

As his presidential library was about to open in 2013, Bush declared he was “comfortable” with life and his legacy. And that included the legacy of his war of choice in Iraq. “It’s easy to forget,” he said, “what life was like when the decision was made.”And in Bush’s own 2010 memoir Decision Points, the decision to remove Saddam over his non-existent weapons of mass destruction was an embarrassment, but not a mistake. As Peter Baker documented for the New York Times in May 2015 (“Unlike His Brother, George W. Bush Stands by His Call to Invade Iraq”):

“No one was more shocked or angry than I was when we didn’t find the weapons,” Mr. Bush wrote. “I had a sickening feeling every time I thought about it. I still do.” The false intelligence proved to be “a massive blow to our credibility — my credibility — that would shake the confidence of the American people,” he concluded…”Imagine what the world would look like today with Saddam Hussein still ruling Iraq,” Mr. Bush wrote. “He would still be threatening his neighbors, sponsoring terror and piling bodies into mass graves.”

“Instead,” he added, “as a result of our actions in Iraq, one of America’s most committed and dangerous enemies stopped threatening us forever.”

As it turned out, not so much. Last November, the former president used the press tour for his biography of his father to once again defend the rightness of his March 2003 invasion of Iraq. If “bad language” had been his only regret while in office, by the end of 2014 Bush’s lone misgiving was the rise of ISIS:

“I think it was the right decision. My regret is that a violent group of people has risen up again. This is al Qaeda plus. I put in the book that they need to be defeated. And I hope they are. I hope the strategy works.”

Unfortunately, as Jeb Bush learned from 19-year-old college student Ivy Ziedrich, “Your brother created ISIS.” As I summed up Team Bush’s culpability for the birth and rise of the Islamic State in May:

Ms. Ziedrich’s is a bold claim. After all, for her to be right, ISIS–the dangerous movement combining Saddam loyalists, former Al Qaeda members and disgruntled Sunni fighters–would have to have emerged as a direct result of the war Bush launched in 2003. The disbanding of Saddam’s 400,000 man army would have to be laid at the feet of “The Decider.” Foreign fighters must have flocked to Al Qaeda–a non-factor in Iraq before the U.S. invasion–specifically to target American troops. And while those unlikely allies forged ties in U.S and Iraqi prisons, Sunni tribesmen once paid by American forces would have to have become alienated by a sectarian Shiite strongman in Baghdad beholden to Iran. The inevitable outcome of such U.S. mismanagement of post-Saddam Iraq, as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld privately warned his boss on October 15, 2002, would be that “Iraq could experience ethnic strife among Sunni, Shia, and Kurds” with the result that “it could fracture into two or three pieces, to the detriment of the Middle East and the benefit of Iran.”Unfortunately for Jeb Bush, and to Ivy Ziedrich’s credit, that is precisely what transpired. Or to put it in terms even Republican myth-makers can understand: ISIS? George W. Bush built that.

It’s with good reason that even the ever-smarmy Tony Blair had to admit this week, “Of course, you can’t say that those who removed Saddam in 2003 have no responsibility for the situation in 2015.” Of course, George W. Bush had in his  own way admitted as much in his December 2008 exit interview with Martha Raddatz of ABC News:

BUSH: One of the major theaters against al Qaeda turns out to have been Iraq. This is where al Qaeda said they were going to take their stand. This is where al Qaeda was hoping to take–RADDATZ: But not until after the U.S. invaded.

BUSH: Yeah, that’s right. So what? The point is that al Qaeda said they’re going to take a stand. Well, first of all in the post-9/11 environment Saddam Hussein posed a threat. And then upon removal, al Qaeda decides to take a stand.

Before and since, George W. Bush has taken a stand on his decision to go to war in Iraq. As he explained in that 2014 hagiography of his dad (41: A Portrait of My Father), Dubya proclaimed:

“One thing is certain: The Iraqi people, the United States and the world are better off without Saddam Hussein in power,” Mr. Bush wrote. “I believe the decision that Dad made in 1991 was correct — and I believe the same is true of the decision I made a dozen years later.”

History, as both he and Jeb are fond of saying, will judge the 2003 Iraq war. Sadly for them both, it’s already clear that history’s judgment won’t be kind. Alas, being a Republican apparently means never having to say you’re sorry.

Daily Kos Staff

Drone Strike Takes Out Al Qaeda Compound, Not Knowing It Held Hostages

The author of this editorial is quite passionate about the use of drones and the resulting collateral damage…

Addicting Info

To those who operate our anti-terrorist operations, January 14 and 19 were normal days. A report of an Al Qaeda camp had been studied, and verified, followed by an attack drone deployed to destroy it, with a second then sent out five days later. Then came the after reports, and the worst news possible was confirmed – the strike had killed two hostages that Al Qaeda had squirreled away in the camp unbeknownst to all.

Dr. Warren Weinstein was an aid worker in Pakistan when he was taken hostage in 2011. With him was fellow aid worker Giovanni Lo Porto, taken in 2012. Their locations were always kept secret, with only teasing elements leaked and unreasonable demands put for their release. Until the attack, nobody in the west had any idea where they were held.

The attack also appears to have killed Bin Laden Associate Adam Gadahn and Al Qaeda leader Ahmed Farouq. It is also believed the strike hurt Al Qaeda operations in the region from their losses. These two hostages, two more innocents, will be chalked up as just more collateral damage in the grand war on terror.

The increasing use of drones to enforce the United States’ will is resulting in an ever increasing list of non-combatant fatalities, with over 1000 people killed who were not targeted by drones so far. While drone technology itself is not at fault, the way the U.S. is using them is preposterous. Imagine if the U.S. put a normal attack plane out there, and did this. The outrage would be quite vocal. But, because the pilot is not within the plane, but instead hundreds, if not thousands of miles away, we all shrug as America asserts its claim to usurp the sovereignty of another nation.

The loss of two hostages is regrettable, and President Obama delayed releasing the news until after their families were notified. But it underscores the growing issue of America run amok, feeling entitled to operate military forces over foreign territory with impunity. Drones are not some new, miracle “America can do what it wants” tool. They are still warplanes, and need to be treated as such. If the United States would not send a B-52, it should not deploy a drone.

When will America wake up and realize that we have become the very empire we once fought against?


10 things you need to know today: December 10, 2014

Senate Intelligence Committee head Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif) called the torture report's findings a "stain on the nation's history."

Senate Intelligence Committee head Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif) called the torture report’s findings a “stain on the nation’s history.” | (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Week

A Senate report says CIA torture was ineffective, Congress reaches a spending deal to avert a shutdown, and more

1. Torture report slams the CIA
The Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday released a highly critical report on the CIA’s secret interrogations of terrorism suspects after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The five-year investigation found that agency medical personnel warned of “a series of near drowning by waterboarding.” The report also rejected claims that torturing detainees helped find Osama bin Laden. The CIA pushed back, saying that so-called enhanced interrogations were effective in foiling al Qaeda plots. [The Washington Post, ABC News]


2. Congress strikes a $1.1 trillion spending deal to avoid a government shutdown
Republicans and Democrats in Congress reached an agreement Tuesday on a $1.1 trillion spending bill that would delay a fight over funding President Obama’s executive order on immigration and avoid a government shutdown. House Speaker John Boehner said he hoped to bring the deal to a vote on Thursday, when the federal government is due to run short of money. The bill gives most of the government money for the next fiscal year, but only funds the Homeland Security Department, which will carry out Obama’s immigration policies, into early next year. [The Associated Press]


3. World Food Program raises money to resume aid to Syrian refugees
The United Nations’ World Food Program announced Tuesday that it has raised more than enough money through a social media campaign to resume a food voucher program for 1.7 million refugees from Syria’s civil war. WFP officials had said they needed $64 million to get the program back on track, and the 72-hour Dollar for Syrian Refugees campaign last week raised $80 million. The agency will now be able to give about $30 to average families for use in local shops. [United Nations]


4. Gruber apologizes for “insulting” remarks on ObamaCare passage
MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, who helped shape the Affordable Care Act, apologized Tuesday for what he called his “glib, thoughtless, and sometimes downright insulting comments” about how supporters got the law passed. In a recently surfaced video, Gruber said supporters relied on the “stupidity of the American voter” to mask the penalty for failing to obtain health insurance as something other than a tax. Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said Gruber’s initial comments inadvertently revealed how Democrats pushed ObamaCare through Congress. [The Washington Times]


5. California DAs accuse Uber of misleading customers
District attorneys in San Francisco and Los Angeles are suing ride-sharing service Uber for allegedly misleading customers and charging bogus fees. The DAs say Uber misleads customers about the quality of its background checks on drivers, and operates out of airports without proper authorization. Uber said it was cooperating with authorities and was “an integral, safe, and established part of the transportation ecosystem in the Golden State.” Uber competitor Lyft settled a similar case, agreeing to pay $250,000 and be more open with passengers. [San Jose Mercury News]


6. Korean Air Lines executive resigns after delaying flight over bag of nuts
A top Korean Air Lines official resigned Tuesday after facing intense criticism for delaying the departure of a flight from New York to South Korea because she was served macadamia nuts in a bag, instead of on a plate. The official, Cho Hyun-ah, is the eldest daughter of the company’s chairman, Cho Yang-ho. The younger Cho served as the airline’s executive vice president of cabin service, and she had ordered a senior crew member off the plane, forcing it to return to the gate. [The Associated Press]


7. Projected gas prices drop
The Energy Department on Tuesday lowered the projected average gasoline price by 35 cents to $2.60 per gallon, 23 percent below this year’s average. The decline would amount to a $100 billion savings for drivers in 2015 based on current levels of consumption. It comes as crude oil prices have fallen to $66 per barrel from $115 in June due to a glut in global supply. Next year’s predicted gas price would be the lowest yearly average since 2009. [USA Today]


8. Freed hostage returns to France
The last French hostage held by Islamists, Serge Lazarevic, returned home Wednesday after being held for three years by al Qaeda’s North African branch. Lazarevic was released days after the release of two al Qaeda fighters from a prison in Mali. He thanked French President Francois Hollande “for having done everything to free me.” The deal revived debate over negotiating with hostage takers. Hollande said France did not pay ransoms or exchange prisoners, but that other countries have, “to help us.” [BBC News, The Associated Press]


9. Former Miss America and actress Mary Ann Mobley dies at 75
Mary Ann Mobley Collins, a former Miss America who appeared in movies with Elvis Presley, died Tuesday in Beverly Hills. She was 75. Collins won the Miss America crown in 1958, and moved on to acting a few years later. Her credits included TV shows, including General Hospital and Perry Mason. She appeared with Elvis in Girl Happy, and with Jerry Lewis in Three on a Couch, the job during which she met her late husband, Gary Collins, who died two years ago. [The Associated Press]


10. Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi in Oslo to accept Nobel Peace Prize
Malala Yousafzai, who survived being shot by a Taliban gunman, and fellow education advocate Kailash Satyarthi are in Oslo to receive the Nobel Peace Prize on Wednesday. Malala, 17, will be the youngest person ever to receive the award. “We are not here just to accept our award, get this medal, and go back home,” the Pakistani teen said at a press conference before the ceremony. “We are here to tell children especially that you need to stand up, you need to speak up for your rights … It is you who can change the world.” [Agence France Presse]

10 things you need to know today: December 8, 2014

NATO lowers the flag. 

NATO lowers the flag. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)

The Week

The U.S. officially ends its combat mission in Afghanistan, tensions rise over a report on CIA torture, and more

1. The U.S. officially ends Afghanistan combat mission
The U.S. and NATO formally ended their combat mission in Afghanistan on Monday, with a ceremonial lowering of the flag at NATO’s International Security Assistance Force Joint Command. It has been 13 years since the invasion to topple the Taliban and rout al Qaeda after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The coalition will still keep 13,000 troops — down from the 2011 peak of 140,000 — in the country after January 1 to train and support Afghan security forces, who have led the fight against Taliban insurgents since mid-2013. [The Associated Press]


2. A report on CIA interrogation techniques sparks controversy
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, warned Sunday that the impending release of a report on the use of torture by the CIA would cause “violence and death” overseas. “I think this is a terrible idea,” he said. Secretary of State John Kerry has also asked Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who is in charge of the report, to be careful about when she releases report, although the Obama administration supports going public with its results. [Fox News]


3. Violent protests continue in California
Tense demonstrations continued for a second night in California’s San Francisco Bay Area, as more than 500 people protesting the fatal police shootings of unarmed black men in New York and Missouri briefly shut down a highway in Oakland. Although the protests in California and across the nation have been mostly peaceful, some of the demonstrators in Oakland threw rocks, bottles, and even explosives at officers clearing the highway. Highway patrol officers responded with tear gas and arrested eight people. [Los Angeles Times]


4. Locals say 11 people died in Yemen rescue attempt
At least 11 people were killed in the U.S.-led attempt to rescue an American photojournalist in Yemen, residents in the area said on Sunday. The dead included a 10-year-old boy and a local al Qaeda leader, as well as the American hostage, Luke Somers, and South African teacher Pierre Korkie. The two Westerners were shot and killed by their al-Qaeda captors during the raid. Korkie reportedly was due to be released within a day, although U.S. officials said they were not aware of a ransom deal negotiated for his freedom. [Reuters]


5. Uber shut down in Delhi after rape allegations
India’s Delhi region banned Uber, the popular smartphone cab-hailing service, on Monday after one of its drivers was accused of raping a passenger. The driver, Shiv Kumar Yadav, had been accused of a similar crime in 2011, but he reached a settlement with the alleged victim and was acquitted. Police said Uber did not do background checks, and that Yadav did not have proper permits. The U.S.-based Uber, which started operating in New Delhi a year ago, said it was cooperating fully with police. [The New York Times]


6. Typhoon Hagupit weakens as death toll climbs to 21
Typhoon Hagupit weakened to become a tropical storm on Monday as it continued to churn over the Philippines. The death toll from the storm rose to 21, far lower than last year’s devastating Haiyan, a super typhoon that left more than 7,300 dead or missing. More than a million people have sought refuge in shelters. Hagupit’s top sustained winds have decreased from 109 mph to 65 mph. The storm is expected to reach the town of Batangas, 68 miles south of Manila, by Monday night. [CBS News]


7. Video-game pioneer Ralph Baer dies at 92
Ralph Baer, the man many considered to be the father of home video games, died over the weekend. He was 92. Baer first pitched the idea for games on TVs in 1951, but later said he was told, “Who needs this?” In 1968 he completed work on a prototype console called the Brown Box, and that technology was used to make the Magnavox Odyssey, the world’s first commercial home video game console. He also created the first video-game light gun, and in 1978 he invented the memory game Simon. [The Washington Post]


8. Gas prices hit a four-year low
Gasoline prices have dropped to their lowest level in more than four years, according to a Lundberg survey released Sunday. Prices for a gallon of regular-grade gas declined by 12 cents over the last two weeks to an average of $2.72 per gallon, a full dollar lower than in May. The plunge, similar to those seen during the 2008 recession, was largely due to the combination of slowing demand and rising oil production. Prices might fall a few cents more by Christmas, survey publisher Trilby Lundberg said. [Reuters]


9. Veterans mark Pearl Harbor anniversary
Aging veterans who survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor gathered in Hawaii on Sunday to mark the 73rd anniversary of the raid that pulled the U.S. into World War II. About 100 Pearl Harbor survivors and other veterans of the war, many using canes, walkers, or wheelchairs, attended a ceremony at the memorial over the sunken battleship USS Arizona. About 2,000 Pearl Harbor survivors remain. “As the years stretch, the stories of every sailor, soldier, Marine, airman, nurse, or citizen who was at Pearl Harbor grow more precious,” Navy Adm. Michelle Howard said. [The Associated Press, USA Today]


10. Four teams picked for inaugural college football playoff
The College Football Playoff selection committee announced Sunday that it had chosen Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, and Ohio State to play in the first college football playoff, which replaces the old bowl system in determining the year’s top team. On Jan. 1, top-seed Alabama will play fourth-seed Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, and second-seed Oregon will play third-seed Florida State in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The winners square off for the national title on Jan. 12. [The New York Times]

10 things you need to know today: December 6, 2014

Luke Somers had been held hostage since September 2013.

Luke Somers had been held hostage since September 2013 | (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed, File)

The Week

A U.S. hostage was killed in a failed rescue attempt, Rolling Stone apologizes for its UVA rape story, and more

1. American hostage Luke Somers killed by al Qaeda in failed rescue attempt
American photojournalist Luke Somers, 33, was killed during a failed U.S.-led rescue attempt in Yemen, officials said on Saturday. South African hostage Pierre Korkie, who an aid group said was due to be released just one day later, on Sunday, was also killed. Al Qaeda militants had released an online video threatening to kill Somers, who was kidnapped in September 2013. That led President Barack Obama to authorize a rescue attempt for Somers, along with any other hostages being held at the same location. But a Yemeni official said the two men were shot either before or during the raid. [The Associated Press]


2. Rolling Stone apologizes for ‘discrepancies’ in UVA rape story
Will Dana, the managing editor of Rolling Stone, wrote an open letter on Friday saying the magazine may have “misplaced” its trust in the source of an article entitled “A rape on campus,” which described the brutal gang rape of University of Virginia student Jackie at a fraternity house. A new report in The Washington Post claims that there are a number of discrepancies in the details of Jackie’s rape account, such as whether Phi Kappa Psi, the fraternity in question, held a party on Sept. 28, 2012, as the Rolling Stone article stated. [The Washington Post, Rolling Stone]


3. Obama officially nominates Ashton Carter for defense secretary
President Barack Obama officially nominated former Pentagon official Ashton Carter for defense secretary on Friday. Carter, who would replace Chuck Hagel, has a degree in physics from Yale and has served in a number of roles at the Defense Department, focusing on areas such as budget and military acquisitions. Carter called the nomination an “honor and a privilege.” [NPR]


4. France will pay reparations to American Holocaust survivors
Following a year’s worth of negotiations with the Obama administration, France has agreed to compensate American Holocaust survivors who were deported to Nazi death camps via French trains. The agreement will be signed on Monday. A $60 million lump sum payment will be distributed across survivors deemed eligible, or their heirs. Officials estimate that survivors who apply for compensation “could receive payment well over $100,000.” [The Washington Post]


5. Chinese officials arrest former security chief for leaking secrets
Chinese officials have arrested ex-domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang for crimes ranging from corruption to leaking state secrets, a national news agency reported around midnight on Friday. Zhou was expelled from the ruling Communist Party, and it is unclear whether he has a lawyer or will receive an open trial. One of China’s most powerful politicians of the past decade, Zhou is the latest in a string of high-profile figures charged in what President Xi Jingping says is a crackdown on corruption. [Reuters]


6. United States adds 321,000 jobs in November
The U.S. economy added far more jobs than expected in November, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday. Non-farming payroll jobs increased by 321,000, and the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.8 percent. Economists polled by Reuters had estimated there would be just an additional 230,000 jobs added. And, the BLS noted that the job gains were “widespread,” across various fields, including growth in “professional and business services, retail trade, health care, and manufacturing.” [NBC News, Reuters]


7. More than 20 people blind following cataract surgery in India
At least 24 people were blinded by cataract surgeries performed at a free medical clinic in India’s Punjab state last month, Indian authorities report. Officials have launched an investigation into the clinic, and they have already arrested at least one doctor. The clinic performed at least 130 cataract operations on patients in November, and the investigation comes just a month after 13 women died following sterilization surgeries in Chhattisgarh state. [The Associated Press]


8. NASA’s Orion spacecraft successfully finishes test flight
Flying faster and farther than any spacecraft meant for human passengers since the Apollo moon program, NASA’s Orion spacecraft successfully splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on Friday. The capsule traveled twice around Earth in four-and-a-half hours, reaching a zenith of 3,604 miles. Intended to fly astronauts into space beginning as early as 2021, this journey was uncrewed, but NASA’s mission control commentator Rob Navias said it was “the most perfect flight you could ever imagine…There’s your new spacecraft, America.” [The Associated Press]


9. Study finds obesity can decrease life expectancy by 8 years
A study from McGill University found that obesity can shorten a person’s life expectancy by as many as eight years. Young people who are obese are at the highest risk; the sooner a person becomes obese, the more health risks he or she has. The study, published on Thursday in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, found obesity linked to an increased risk of heart disease, as well as type 2 diabetes. Both reduce life expectancy and cause chronic illness. [Time]


10. Beyonce becomes most Grammy-nominated woman
Slipping past Dolly Parton with just one more Grammy nomination, Beyonce is now the most-nominated woman in the award show’s 57-year history. Dolly Parton’s record was 46 Grammy nominations, which Beyonce surpassed on Friday thanks to her nomination for Best Urban Contemporary Album for her eponymous disc. [Billboard]

What Are the Differences Between al-Qaeda and IS?

Isis vs Al Qaeda | wsj

The Huffington Post

When the Taliban regime fell after the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan and al-Qaeda was forced to flee towards the mountains of Pakistan, Osama bin Laden’s second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, wrote a book called Knights Under the Prophet’s Banner: The al-Qaeda Manifesto. In the book, which was serialized in Arab newspapers, al-Zawahiri argued that al-Qaeda’s strategic objective over the coming period — the time we are living in today — was to establish a new base for the holy war (al-Qaeda al-Jihad means “the base for the holy war” in Arabic) somewhere in the Middle East. IS has done just that now in Iraq and Syria, which is nothing less than an historic achievement. In doing so, IS has begun to unravel the old colonial borders which were set up a hundred years ago, beginning with the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916. IS referred to the Sykes-Picot agreement in its last propaganda video “Flames of War: Fighting Has Just Begun” as the “black pages of history,” because it introduced the secular state in the Middle East.

IS now controls significant territories in Iraq and Syria, equaling a small European state. At the same time, despite having a nearly identical view of Islam, IS and al-Qaeda are deadly enemies at present, which may confuse people in the West. IS and al-Qaeda have four major issues of contention:

1) Whether the oath of loyalty (bayat) the IS leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi swore to bin Laden is valid even for his successor, al-Zawahiri;

2) Whether the Jihadis should fight against what they call “the faraway enemy”, meaning the U.S., or the “near enemy,” meaning the local rulers in the Middle East;

3) Whether IS’ declaration of an Islamic state is valid; and

4) Whether IS’ massive violence against everyone who disagrees with them, minorities and others, is a wise strategy.

Al-Zawahiri, who has been active in jihadi circles for 50 years, since he was 14, has many bitter experiences from how Islamic movements, which initially had significant popular support, degenerated into blind and murderous terrorism. This happened in al-Zawahiri’s homeland Egypt in the 1990s and even worse in Algeria during the same time. The leading jihadi group in Algeria during the ’90s, GIA (Groupe Islamique Armé), lost almost all of its popular support when it started to slice the throats of young girls in the name of Islam. In his final communiqué, GIA’s most well-known leader, a chicken farmer whose name was Antar Zouabri, declared the whole population of Algeria to be takfiris — meaning people allowed to be killed by the Jihadis.

When Obama took office in 2009, he was fully determined to take the U.S. out of Bush’s “global war on terrorism,” a phrase Obama has been careful not to use. At first, it looked like he was succeeding. Obama pulled the troops out of Iraq, successfully escalated the drone campaign in Pakistan and, most significantly, he had bin Laden killed in May 2011 — in perfect timing to spoil al-Qaeda’s upcoming celebrations of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. On top of all this, the outbreak of the Arab Spring earlier in 2011 had taken the world by storm and many observers truly believed that the Middle East was heading towards freedom and democracy. NATO’s operation in Libya was, for example, initially hauled as one of the organization’s most important successes ever. Then things started to deteriorate in most of the states that had been affected by the Arab Spring with chaos and violence following.

The rise of IS is a nightmare with possible consequences far beyond anything we have seen so far during the past 13 years of the war on terrorism. A realistic alternative to IS would be an Iranian empire stretching from Western Afghanistan to the Golan Heights at Israel’s border, but that would be, if possible, an even greater nightmare than IS for Western policymakers. In other words, the Middle East is not a smorgasbord of good policy alternatives for Western policymakers at the moment.

A decisive question for the future is whether IS will attack Europe and the U.S. Nothing IS has done so far, the horrific violence included, suggests that its leaders act irrationally. Al-Baghdadi knows very well that the Talibans lost their regime in Afghanistan because they had let al-Qaeda attack the U.S. from its territory. If IS launches a wave of attacks against the West, the U.S. and her European allies will have to go in with full force in Iraq and Syria, this time to win — not the peace, but the war. Such a war would likely have enormous consequences for the hundreds of thousands Syrians and Iraqis now living in the West, overwhelmingly in Europe, if the U.S. and her European allies start killing their relatives in large numbers.

The global jihadis wrongly believe that the liberal Western democracies are weak and unwilling to fight. Previously in history, Nazis, Japanese fascists and Communists believed the same. It took Dresden, Hiroshima and a dissolved Soviet Union to prove to these people that liberal democracies can be as brutal as they have to. Let us all hope that we do not have to teach IS that lesson.

Steve King Not-So-Subtly Implies Susan Rice Works for al Qaeda

I know, it’s batshit crazy Rep. Steve King so why be surprised?   If we keep dismissing this idiot he just gets worse.  This is totally unacceptable and I for one will contact his office to tell him as much.


On Wednesday morning, an elected U.S. congressman not-so-subtly suggested that United States National Security Advisor Susan Rice is working for al Qaeda.

If you had one guess as to who that congressman is (and you didn’t read the headline), who would you assume?   Yep. Steve King, the lovable Republican from Iowa.

In a nice li’l tweet, King railed against the incredibly controversial swap of five Gitmo prisoners for Sgt.Bowe Bergdahl, an American soldier kept prisoner-of-war by a Taliban-aligned group in Afghanistan for the past five years. Upon his return, details have emerged that seemingly indicate Bergdahl defected from his troop before his capture, while the official narrative has always been that he was “taken in battle.”

Since NSA advisor Rice reiterated that talking point this past Sunday, Rep. King thinks that means she is literally working for the enemy:

Obama Administration Accomplishments: 1-21-09 to 3-11-14

President Barack H. Obama

Democratic Hub, one of the best web portals out there, has a running list of President Obama’s accomplishments since day-one. The next time a RWNJ (or even someone on the far left) claims the President has accomplished nothing, send them the link. They may not like what he’s accomplished, but then that’s the whole point, isn’t it?    H/t: All Things Democrat


Democratic Hub

03/11/14 Overtime pay mandated for executive and professional employees Labor Workers & Jobs & Job Growth
02/19/14 Export/Import process for small businesses streamlined through creation of International Trade Data System Business & Economy Small Businesses
02/12/14 Minimum wage for Federal Contractors raised to $10.10 per hour. Minimum Wage Workers
02/07/14 Agriculture Act of 2014 signed into law Agriculture Act of 2014
11/24/13 Iran agrees to constraints on its uranium-enrichment program in exchange for sanctions relief in six month deal with world powers. Nuclear Energy Combating Nuclear Proliferation
10/17/13 Federal Government reopens after 16 day shutdown Government Shutdown Workers
09/27/13 President Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani have a phone conversation, marking the first formal communication between the two countries in 35 years International Relations
09/14/13 Syria agrees to dismantle chemical weapons stockpile after United States and Russia reach deal Treaties & Agreements
06/26/13 Gay marriage to resume in California after lower court ruling declaring Proposition 8 unconstitutional allowed to stand Civil & Human Rights LGBT
06/26/13 Defense of Marriage Act ruled unconstitutional by Supreme Court Civil & Human Rights LGBT
01/02/13 American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 signed into law American Taxpayer Relief Act of 20…
09/10/12 Yemeni forces have killed Said al-Shihri, second in command of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula Al-Qaeda Combating Terrorism
09/02/12 U.S. drone strike killed a top al-Qaida militant (Khaled Batis), who was wanted for allegedly masterminding a 2002 attack on a French oil tanker Terrorism Combating Terrorism
08/24/12 Mullah Dadullah, a senior commander of the Pakistani Taliban, killed by NATO airstrike in eastern Afghanistan Pakistani Taliban Combating Terrorism
06/06/12 Abu Yahya al-Libi, No.2 leader of Al Qaeda, confirmed killed by CIA drone strike in Pakistan Al-Qaeda Defeating Al Qaeda
05/19/12 Blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng free to leave China with his family and study in the USA after diplomatic negotiations with China by Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration International Relations Freedom of Speech
05/09/12 Barack Obama becomes the first President to publicly support the legalization of same sex marriage LGBT
05/06/12 Airstrike Kills Senior Al-Qaida Leader Fahd al-Quso In Yemen Al-Qaeda Defeating Al Qaeda
04/04/12 Members of Congress and certain government employees prohibited from using non-public information for personal profit, including insider trading. STOCK Act U.S. Citizens & Reducing Govt Fraud\Corruption
02/22/12 Cuts in Medicare physician payment rates averted with extension of existing rates through 2012 Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Cr… Doctors & Retirees
02/22/12 Federal unemployment benefits programs extended an additional 13 to 20 weeks Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Cr… Unemployed & Improving the Economy
02/22/12 Self-employed social security payroll tax reduction from 12.4% to 10.4 % extended through 2012 Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Cr… Entrepreneurs & Improving the Economy
02/22/12 Employee social security payroll tax reduction from 6.2% to 4.2 % extended through 2012 Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Cr… Workers & Improving the Economy
02/09/12 Pakistan Al-Qaeda leader Badar Mansoor killed by U.S. drone attacks Al-Qaeda Defeating Al Qaeda
01/30/12 U.S. drone attack in Yemen killed 12-15 militants, including at least four Al-Qaeda leaders Al-Qaeda Defeating Al Qaeda
2012 JAN Senior Al-Qaeda figure Aslam Awan killed in U.S. drone strike Al-Qaeda Defeating Al Qaeda
12/17/11 War in Iraq ended with last American troops crossing border into Kuwait 2003 Iraq War U.S. Citizens
12/06/11 US government international campaign initiated to build respect for the human rights of LGBT persons worldwide Discrimination LGBT
09/30/11 $700 million annual funding for child protection, child abuse prevention, family support and adoption promotion through 2016 Child and Family Services Improvem… Foster Children & Orphans
09/30/11 Senior Al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki killed in Yemen by a CIA-led U.S. drone strike Al-Qaeda Defeating Al Qaeda
09/16/11 Patent litigation costs reduced through tightened patent standards, quality and processes to expedite challenges. America Invents Act Entrepreneurs
09/16/11 Entrepreneurs and businesses benefited by reduced average wait time for patent approvals from 3 years to 1 year. America Invents Act Entrepreneurs
09/11/11 Al-Qaeda’s operations chief for Pakistan Abu Hafs al Shahri reported killed in U.S. Predator strike Al-Qaeda Defeating Al Qaeda
09/06/11 U.S./Pakistani joint arrest of suspected Chief Al-Qaeda Younis al-Mauritani in Quetta Al-Qaeda Defeating Al Qaeda
08/22/11 Al-Qaeda No. 2 Atiyah Abd al-Rahman Killed in Pakistan by CIA predator drone strike Al-Qaeda Defeating Al Qaeda
06/07/11 East Africa’s Al-Qaeda senior leader Harun Fazul killed at security checkpoint in Somalia Al-Qaeda Defeating Al Qaeda
06/03/11 Al-Qaeda Commander Ilyas Kashmiri Killed in U.S. Predator Strike Al-Qaeda Defeating Al Qaeda
2011 JUN 6 senior Al-Qaeda figures killed in U.S. Air Strike Al-Qaeda Defeating Al Qaeda
05/02/11 US Forces Kill Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan Al-Qaeda Defeating Al Qaeda
02/23/11 Defense of Marriage Act declared unconstitutional and no longer defended in federal courts by the Obama Administration LGBT
02/05/11 Number of US and Russian strategic nuclear missile launchers reduced in half by 2017 New START Treaty Combating Nuclear Proliferation
02/05/11 Number of US and Russian nuclear warheads deployed reduced by two-thirds by 2017 New START Treaty Combating Nuclear Proliferation
01/04/11 Small family farms selling locally exempted from federal regulations such as traceability and record keeping Food Safety Modernization Act Farmers & Improving Govt Efficiency
01/04/11 Safety of U.S. grown food improved with requirements for large factory farms to register all food handlers and maintain records relating to food safety Food Safety Modernization Act Consumers
01/04/11 Safety of imported food improved with new FSVP & VQIP programs that helps ensure it is safe, unadulterated and not misbranded Food Safety Modernization Act Consumers & Improving Govt Efficiency
12/22/10 US sponsored measure to include “sexual orientation” in the definition of human rights adopted by the UN General Assembly, 122- 0. Discrimination LGBT
12/22/10 $193 million saved over five years by eliminating recruiting and retraining costs of replacing soldiers discharged due to DADT Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act Military Personnel &Reducing Debt\Deficits
12/22/10 Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly in the military Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act LGBT & Military Personnel
12/17/10 $40 billion in tax credits for college students and lower income families with children 2010 Tax & Jobs Compromise Poor & Students
12/17/10 Unemployment benefits extended for 13 months at a cost of $56 billion 2010 Tax & Jobs Compromise Unemployed & Improving the Economy
12/17/10 $111 billion in tax relief for workers by a reducing social security payroll tax from 6.2% to 4.2% for 2011. 2010 Tax & Jobs Compromise Workers & Improving the Economy
12/17/10 $136 billion in tax relief for 21 million middle class households through patch to the Alternative Minimum Tax for 2010 & 2011 2010 Tax & Jobs Compromise Middle Class & Workers
12/17/10 $186 billion in tax relief for all tax payers by extending the Bush income tax cuts for 2010 & 2011 2010 Tax & Jobs Compromise Workers & Consumers
12/13/10 Schools and communities provided resources to utilize local farms and gardens to provide fresh produce for school food programs. Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act Children & Improving Health & Wellness
12/13/10 Number of eligible children enrolled in school meal programs increased by approximately 115,000 students Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act Children & Improving Health & Wellness
12/08/10 $3.4 billion settlement for Native Americans against the US government arising from incorrect accounting for royalties on mineral leases Claims Resolution Act Native Americans &Improving Govt Efficiency
12/08/10 $1.5 billion awarded to some 75,000 black farmers who were victims of discrimination in applying for farm loans from 1983 to 1997 Claims Resolution Act African Americans & Farmers
10/14/10 Veteran work-study programs expanded to include congressional offices, state agencies and institutions of higher learning Veterans’ Benefit Act Veterans & Creating Jobs
10/14/10 Insurance policy amounts and terms enhanced for severely disabled veterans Veterans’ Benefit Act Veterans & Improving Health & Wellness
10/14/10 On-the-job training opportunities expanded for veterans by reimbursing energy sector employers for training costs. Veterans’ Benefit Act Veterans & Creating Jobs
10/14/10 Service members receiving relocation orders protected from early termination fees for certain contracts and residential leases Veterans’ Benefit Act Military Personnel
10/14/10 Disabled veterans provided improved independent assisted living services, automobile adaptive equipment and allowances for automobile purchase Veterans’ Benefit Act Veterans
10/14/10 $10 million in job training, counseling, placement services, and child care services for homeless women veterans and homeless veterans with children Veterans’ Benefit Act Veterans & Women
09/27/10 $30 billion lending program created for community banks with incentives to increase small business lending Small Business Jobs Act Small Businesses &Improving the Economy
09/27/10 $12 billion in assistance for small businesses through eight separate tax cuts Small Business Jobs Act Small Businesses
08/03/10 Large disparity in jail sentences reduced for crack cocaine related offenses that disproportionately affected African Americans Fair Sentencing Act African Americans
07/22/10 Long-term economic stability improved through new FDIC powers to liquidate failing financial firms such as insurance companies and non-bank financial companies Wall Street Reform Act Improving Economic Stability
07/22/10 Borrowers protected from bad loans with rules and penalties requiring that lenders verify that they are able to repay the loans that they issue Wall Street Reform Act Homeowners & Consumers
07/22/10 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau established to promote fairness and transparency for mortgages, credit cards, and other consumer financial products Wall Street Reform Act Consumers
07/22/10 Transparency of Federal Reserve improved with additional government oversight and new audits to be performed by the GAO Wall Street Reform Act Improving Govt Transparency
07/22/10 FDIC bank deposit insurance increased from $100,000 to $250,000 Wall Street Reform Act Consumers & Improving Economic Stability
07/22/10 Risk in the financial system reduced with new SEC Office of Credit Ratings (OCR) to monitor credit rating agencies for conflict of interests & inaccuracies Wall Street Reform Act Improving Economic Stability
07/22/10 Future economic downturns minimized with new rules and transparency regarding bank trading in credit default swaps and derivatives including the “Volker Rule” Wall Street Reform Act Improving Economic Stability
07/22/10 Financial Stability Oversight Council established to identify and monitor excessive risks to the U.S. financial system Wall Street Reform Act Improving Economic Stability
06/29/10 U.S. drone attack killed 7 known terrorists, most notable Al-Qaeda operative from Egypt Hawza al Jawfi Al-Qaeda Defeating Al Qaeda
06/02/10 Federal benefits extended to same sex partners of workers through memorandum by Obama administration Civil & Human Rights LGBT & Federal Employees
05/21/10 Al-Qaeda’s number three commander Sheik Saeed al-Masri killed in U.S. drone attack Al-Qaeda Defeating Al Qaeda
05/05/10 Housing and care options expanded for homeless veterans living in care shelters Caregivers & Veterans Health Servi… Veterans
05/05/10 Care options expanded for veterans living in rural areas that lack the necessary VA medical facilities Caregivers & Veterans Health Servi… Veterans & Improving Health & Wellness
05/05/10 Counseling and care enhanced for military women victims of sexual trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) Caregivers & Veterans Health Servi… Veterans & Women
05/05/10 Health care services improved and expanded for women veterans at Veterans care facilities Caregivers & Veterans Health Servi… Veterans & Women
05/05/10 Family caregivers of veterans granted eligibility to VA counseling and mental health services Caregivers & Veterans Health Servi… Veterans & Women
04/18/10 Joint American and Iraqi operation killed Al-Qaeda leaders Abu Ayyub al-Masri and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi Al-Qaeda Defeating Al Qaeda
03/30/10 $2 billion investment to laid off workers for education and career training programs in community colleges over four years starting in 2010 Student Aid Act Unemployed & Improving Education
03/30/10 $68 billion to expand Pell grants & make it easier for students to repay outstanding loans after graduation through savings in the federal student loan program Student Aid Act College Students & Improving Education
03/23/10 Consumers guaranteed the right to choose the primary care doctor or pediatrician from their health plan’s provider network Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) Consumers & Improving Health & Wellness
03/23/10 Insurers selling to groups of 50 or more employees must spend 85% of premiums on medical care and quality improvement Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) Consumers & Improving Health & Wellness
03/23/10 Annual dollar limits on health benefits restricted and phased out by 2014 Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) Consumers & Improving Health & Wellness
03/23/10 Health care insurance plans prohibited from putting a lifetime limit on the benefits you receive Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) Consumers
03/23/10 50% discount on prescription drug costs for seniors in the Medicare “donut hole” starting in 2011 Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) Senior Citizens & Improving Health & Wellness
03/23/10 $250 rebate for those in the Medicare Prescription drug “donut hole” during 2010 Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) Senior Citizens & Improving Health & Wellness
03/23/10 Young adults can stay on parent’s insurance plan up until age 26 Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) Young Adults & Consumers
03/23/10 Children under 19 can no longer be denied coverage or benefits for a pre-existing condition Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) Consumers & Children
03/23/10 People denied coverage for a pre-existing condition given access to a temporary high risk health insurance plan Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) Consumers & Improving Health & Wellness
03/23/10 Preventative services will be covered at no additional cost Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) Consumers
03/23/10 Women are no longer charged higher premiums because of their gender Obamacare (Affordable Care Act)
03/23/10 Consumers are guaranteed the right to appeal decisions made by their health insurance provider Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) Improving Health & Wellness
03/23/10 HIV Testing Will Now Be Covered Under Obamacare Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) Improving Health & Wellness
03/23/10 Health insurance companies can not charge higher premiums for out of network emergency room care Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) Consumers
03/23/10 Insurance companies must provide consumers a short, easy to understand summary of their benefits and coverage Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) Consumers
03/23/10 $143 billion in deficit reduction estimated between 2010-2019 from health care reform law provisions Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) Reducing Debt\Deficits
03/23/10 People with a pre-existing condition cannot be denied health coverge by an insurance company starting in 2014 Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) Consumers & Improving Health & Wellness
03/23/10 Insurance companies must spend 80% of the money raised from consumers premiums on health care and quality improvement Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) Consumers
03/23/10 Mental health and drug addiction coverage is an “essential benefit” that can not be denied Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) Improving Health & Wellness
03/18/10 Offsets costs through a 30 percent withholding tax on income from certain U.S. financial assets held by foreign banks who have not agreed to disclosures. Hire Act Unemployed
03/18/10 Encourages job creation by expanding investments in schools and clean energy projects Hire Act Unemployed
03/18/10 $20 billion to the highway trust fund for spending on highway and transit programs. Hire Act Unemployed & Improving Infrastructure
03/18/10 $17.5 billion in tax cuts, business credits and subsidies for state and local construction bonds to stimulate business investment and hiring Hire Act Unemployed & Businesses
03/18/10 Tax credits to employers who keep new hires for 52 weeks to encourage retention of new hires Hire Act Unemployed & Businesses
03/18/10 Social Security payroll tax credits in 2010 for employers that hired people who have been unemployed for 60+ days Hire Act Unemployed & Businesses
2010 MAR Al-Qaeda operative Hussein al-Yemeni killed by U.S. drone attack in Pakistan Al-Qaeda Defeating Al Qaeda
02/24/10 Al-Qaeda and Taliban-linked Fedayeen-i-Islam leader Qari Zafar killed in US airstrike Al-Qaeda Defeating Al Qaeda
2010 FEB Militant commander Muhammad Haqqani killed by U.S. drone attacks Terrorism Combating Terrorism
01/01/10 Discrimination based on gender identity banned in federal workplaces Discrimination LGBT
2009 Liquidation of General Motors and Chrysler avoided through government mandated restructuring plans and conditional investment and loan programs Business & Economy Businesses & Workers
2009 115,000 jobs created at General Motors and Chrysler since government financing and restructuring implemented Jobs Workers & Creating Jobs
2009 1.45 million American jobs saved overall by government financing and restructuring of GM and Chrysler to avoid liquidation Jobs Workers & Saving Jobs
2009 $96 billion in personal income losses avoided by government financing and restructuring of GM and Chrysler to avoid liquidation Labor Workers & Improving the Economy
2009 $28.6 billion net public benefit in income taxes and social security taxes paid because liquidation of GM and Chrysler avoided Taxes Businesses & Improving the Economy
12/17/09 Al-Qaeda Operational Commander Abdallah Sa’id killed in U.S. drone attack Al-Qaeda Defeating Al Qaeda
12/08/09 Al-Qaeda Operational Commander Saleh al-Somali killed in U.S. drone attack Al-Qaeda Defeating Al Qaeda
10/30/09 People with HIV/AIDS no longer prohibited from entering the United States Discrimination Immigrants & LGBT
10/28/09 Existing hate crime laws strengthened with funding to investigate and prosecute those crimes Matthew Shepard Act LGBT
10/28/09 Federal hate crime law expanded to include crimes motivated by gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability. Matthew Shepard Act LGBT
09/14/09 Operation Celestial Balance: Navy Seals Kill Somalian Al-Qaeda leader Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan in raid Al-Qaeda
09/14/09 Somalian Al-Qaeda leader Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan killed by U.S. raid Al-Qaeda Defeating Al Qaeda
09/04/09 White House voluntary disclosure of visitor logs Improving Govt Transparency
08/29/09 Co-founder of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan Tohir Yo‘ldosh killed by U.S. drone attacks Terrorism Combating Terrorism
08/05/09 U.S. drone attack killed Tehrik e-Taliban Pakistan leader Baitullah Mahsud in Pakistan Pakistani Taliban Combating Terrorism
06/29/09 First-ever reception at the White House honoring Lesbian, Gay, Transgendered, Bisexual Pride Month hosted by the President and First lady Discrimination LGBT
05/25/09 Sonya Sotomayor nominated and approved as Supreme Court justice Women & Hispanics\Latinos
05/22/09 Annual awards program established to recognize individuals and teams making significant contributions to improving efficiency of defense aquisition programs Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Improving Govt Efficiency
05/22/09 Funding provided to hire and retain highly skilled specialists to assess the cost, schedule and applicability of proposed Defense Dept weapons systems Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Improving Govt Efficiency
05/22/09 Oversight and audit required of those major defense programs experiencing cost overruns to determine if the programs are essential and cost-effective Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Improving Govt Efficiency
05/22/09 Defense contractors prohibited from participating in both the systems engineering and the development /construction phases of the weapon systems Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Improving Govt Efficiency
05/22/09 Defense oversight council required to seek input from combat commanders in evaluating proposed weapons system capabilities and needs Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Improving Govt Efficiency
05/22/09 Independent cost assesessment director initiated to ensure that cost estimates for major Defense contracts are fair, reliable, and unbiased Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Improving Govt Efficiency
05/22/09 Defense Dept ordered to evaluate the technological maturity and product knowledge of critical weapons’ technologies before letting defense contracts Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Improving Govt Efficiency
05/22/09 Dept of Defense systems analysis, engineering and developmental testing processes overhauled to reduce high rates of failure on defense acquisitions Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Improving Govt Efficiency
05/22/09 Credit cardholders protected against arbitrary interest rate increases, hidden and excessive fees, and due date gimmicks Credit Card Act Consumers
05/20/09 $2.2 billion appropriated to help communities address the homeless crisis. Helping Families Save Their Homes Homeless
05/20/09 Lenders incentivized to reduce foreclosures by loss mitigation guarantees, compensation and lender protection from lawsuits by investors holding the loans Helping Families Save Their Homes Homeowners
05/20/09 Homeowners’ foreclosures avoided by improved terms for loan modification and restructuring of their debt Helping Families Save Their Homes Homeowners
05/20/09 $42 million in special funding for the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate securites fraud in financial institutions Fraud Enforcement Act Consumers
05/20/09 $40 million in special funding for the Secret Service to investigate financial institutions for fraud Fraud Enforcement Act Consumers
05/20/09 $60 million in special funding for Inspector General’s Office at the U S Dept of Housing and Urban Development to investigate financial institutions for fraud Fraud Enforcement Act Consumers
05/20/09 $60 million in special funding for the Postal Inspection Service to investigate financial institutions for fraud Fraud Enforcement Act Consumers
05/20/09 $80 million in special funding to the criminal, civil and tax divisions of the Dept of Justice to investigate and prosecute fraud in financial institutions Fraud Enforcement Act Consumers
05/20/09 $100 million in special funding for the offices of the United States Attorneys to investigate and prosecute fraud in financial institutions Fraud Enforcement Act Consumers
05/20/09 $140 million in special funding for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate fraud in financial institutions Fraud Enforcement Act Consumers
05/20/09 Securities fraud definition amended to include fraud related to commodities futures and derivatives fraud Fraud Enforcement Act Consumers
05/20/09 Crime of major fraud against the United States amended to include Federal grants made to stimulate economic recovery for fiscal years 2009 and 2010 Fraud Enforcement Act Consumers
05/20/09 Mortgage lending businesses added to list of financial institutions subject to Federal criminal law in fraudulent lending practices Fraud Enforcement Act Homeowners
05/20/09 Financial Crisis Inquiry commission created to examine and report on the domestic and global causes of the 2008 – 2009 financial and economic crisis Fraud Enforcement Act Consumers
04/21/09 Disadvantaged youth job opportunites enhanced by community service to gain skills/experience and earn education grants and stipends Serve America Act Volunteering & Community Organizers
04/21/09 Community volunteer program expanded to address the education, health care, energy and veterans needs of low income communities Serve America Act Volunteering & Community Organizers
04/21/09 250,000 volunteers by 2017 for community service programs in low income neighborhoods Serve America Act Volunteering & Community Organizers
04/13/09 Restrictions eased on Cuba travel, money transfers, and cellular telephone/satellite service. International Relations
04/11/09 Maersk Alabama Capt. Richard Phillips rescued during operation in which U.S. Navy Seal snipers kill three Somali Pirates holding him for ransom aboard lifeboat Somali Civil War Combating Terrorism
04/01/09 Approximately 2.7 million jobs added to US payrolls and unemployment rate kept 1½ percentage points lower due to Stimulus spending 2009 Stimulus Bill Workers & Businesses
04/01/09 Deeper recession or depression averted in 2009 and beyond with the help of stimulus bill provisions 2009 Stimulus Bill Improving Economic Stability
02/17/09 $48.1 billion in investments for highway, bridge, high-speed rail & other transportation projects 2009 Stimulus Bill Improving Infrastructure
02/17/09 $100 billion in education aid to prevent lay-offs, modernize schools, award Pell grants and help low income children & special education programs 2009 Stimulus Bill Middle Class & Poor
02/17/09 $155 billion in health care assistance for the poor & unemployed primarily for Medicaid, health information technology and insurance premium subsidies 2009 Stimulus Bill Poor & Unemployed
02/17/09 $70 billion in tax relief for middle class workers by patching the Alternative Minimum Tax for one year 2009 Stimulus Bill Middle Class
02/17/09 $82.2 billion in aid for low income workers, unemployed and retirees (including job training) 2009 Stimulus Bill Poor & Unemployed
02/17/09 Tax credit of $400 per worker ($800 per couple) for middle income workers for 2009 & 2010 totaling $116 billion 2009 Stimulus Bill Middle Class & Workers
02/17/09 2010 real GDP increased by about 3.4% due to stimulus spending 2009 Stimulus Bill Businesses & Improving the Economy
02/04/09 4 million more children insured under SCHIP in addition to the 6.6 million already covered Children’s Health Insurance Progra… Children
01/29/09 Employers prompted to review, develop and update their criteria on employee compensation to ensure they are applied consistently and uniformly. Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act Women & Women’s Rights
01/29/09 Pay discrimination based on gender, race, color, national origin, age and disability prohibited. Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act Women & Women’s Rights
01/29/09 Statute of limitations on filing equal-pay lawsuits eased by setting period to start from the date of the most recent paycheck. Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act Women & Women’s Rights
01/21/09 Use of torture by CIA and military to interrogate prisoners prohibited. Torture


Liberaland Replay: Where Was The Outrage During 13 Embassy Attacks During BushCo?



Bob Cesca catalogued the numerous attacks and deaths at embassies during the Bush administration that resulted in not a peep from those outraged by Benghazi.

January 22, 2002. Calcutta, India. Gunmen associated with Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami attack the U.S. Consulate. Five people are killed.

June 14, 2002. Karachi, Pakistan. Suicide bomber connected with al Qaeda attacks the U.S. Consulate, killing 12 and injuring 51.

October 12, 2002. Denpasar, Indonesia. U.S. diplomatic offices bombed as part of a string of “Bali Bombings.” No fatalities.

February 28, 2003. Islamabad, Pakistan. Several gunmen fire upon the U.S. Embassy. Two people are killed.

May 12, 2003. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Armed al Qaeda terrorists storm the diplomatic compound, killing 36 people including nine Americans. The assailants committed suicide by detonating a truck bomb.

July 30, 2004. Tashkent, Uzbekistan. A suicide bomber from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan attacks the U.S. Embassy, killing two people.

December 6, 2004. Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Al Qaeda terrorists storm the U.S. Consulate and occupy the perimeter wall. Nine people are killed.

March 2, 2006. Karachi, Pakistan again. Suicide bomber attacks the U.S. Consulate killing four people, including U.S. diplomat David Foy who was directly targeted by the attackers. (I wonder if Lindsey Graham or Fox News would even recognize the name “David Foy.” This is the third Karachi terrorist attack in four years on what’s considered American soil.)

September 12, 2006. Damascus, Syria. Four armed gunmen shouting “Allahu akbar” storm the U.S. Embassy using grenades, automatic weapons, a car bomb and a truck bomb. Four people are killed, 13 are wounded.

January 12, 2007. Athens, Greece. Members of a Greek terrorist group called the Revolutionary Struggle fire a rocket-propelled grenade at the U.S. Embassy. No fatalities.

March 18, 2008. Sana’a, Yemen. Members of the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic Jihad of Yemen fire a mortar at the U.S. Embassy. The shot misses the embassy, but hits nearby school killing two.

July 9, 2008. Istanbul, Turkey. Four armed terrorists attack the U.S. Consulate. Six people are killed.

September 17, 2008. Sana’a, Yemen. Terrorists dressed as military officials attack the U.S. Embassy with an arsenal of weapons including RPGs and detonate two car bombs. Sixteen people are killed, including an American student and her husband (they had been married for three weeks when the attack occurred). This is the second attack on this embassy in seven months.

The Facts About Benghazi – NY Times Editorial

The Blue Street Journal

The New York Times Editorial Board

An exhaustive investigation by The Times goes a long way toward resolving any nagging doubts about what precipitated the attack on the United States mission in Benghazi, Libya, last year that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

The report by David Kirkpatrick, The Times’s Cairo bureau chief, and his team turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or another international terrorist group had any role in the assault, as Republicans have insisted without proof for more than a year. The report concluded that the attack was led by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s air power and other support during the uprising against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi and that it was fueled, in large part, by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.

In a rational world, that would settle the dispute over Benghazi, which has further poisoned the poisonous political discourse in Washington and kept Republicans and Democrats from working cooperatively on myriad challenges, including how best to help Libyans stabilize their country and build a democracy. But Republicans long ago abandoned common sense and good judgment in pursuit of conspiracy-mongering and an obsessive effort to discredit President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who may run for president in 2016.

On the Sunday talk shows, Representatives Mike Rogers and Darrell Issa, two Republicans who are some of the administration’s most relentless critics of this issue, dismissed The Times’s investigation and continued to press their own version of reality on Benghazi.


H/t: DB for emailing me this article


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